The New York Public Library's controversial renovation plan — which has attracted no shortage of public criticism over the past several months — is now the subject of a lawsuit filed by a group of preservationists and scholars. Aiming to stop the library from removing its research stacks from its iconic Fifth Avenue building, the suit charges that the imminent plan not only violates its charter, which establishes the institution as a research facility rather than a circulation library, but "will surely doom the NYPL's mission to serve the public's research and reference needs." Plus, it alleges, "if the stacks are destroyed, the books — the unique and distinguishing asset of the NYPL — can never be returned to their rightful place under the Rose Main Reading Room."
Among the plaintiffs (who are represented by the nonprofit Advocates for Justice) are architect Mark Alan Hewitt, publishing veteran Jack Macrae, and Pulitzer-winning historian David Levering Lewis. But they are not the first, and likely won't be the last, to blast the library for its consolidation plan, which is estimated at $300 million and involves selling the the Mid-Manhattan Library and the Science, Industry, and Business Library so their operations may be integrated into the main branch. (The removal of two to three million books, to a storage space in New Jersey, ostensibly makes room for this integration.)